Nepal's government and former rebel Maoists have agreed to demands by protesters in the southeast of the country for greater political representation in an effort to halt ethnic unrest in which nine people have died, officials said on Tuesday night.
Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula told reporters new electoral constituencies would be added for key elections due to be held before June, and the demand for increased federalisation of the Terai region would be addressed.
"In principle we have agreed to establish a federal state of government but the new constitution to be formed by the constituent assembly will decide on the structure," Sitaula told reporters after three hours of talks between leaders of the seven parties in government and the Maoists.
"The new constituencies will be formed based upon population and geography. This is the demand of the Nepali people," the home minister said.
"We think we have addressed the key issues of the Mahadhesi people and we are hopeful that the protests will cease," Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara said.
The agreement comes after nearly two weeks of rioting in Nepal's impoverished southern Terai region by members of the Mahadhesi community, who have long complained of being discriminated against and underrepresented in government.
The Terai area, known as Nepal's "bread basket", is a low-lying region bordering India and is dominated by the Mahadhesi community.